After decades of waiting, the Town of Lake Cowichan celebrated the naming of its three new fields at Centennial Park on Sunday, June 10.
Mayor Ross Forrest, himself a longtime baseball fan, was clearly delighted with the way things were working out.
“We’re very thankful to the federal government for the Canada 150, for the half a million dollars that they gave us in grant money to be able to achieve the goal of these playing fields here,” he said.
Forrest then asked the new Lady of the Lake royalty — Keely MacDonald, Olivia Skinner, and Amber Eddy — to lead the crowd in ‘O Canada’ before introducing the honoured guests: Jimmy Jones, son of Dawn Coe-Jones, the Somerville family, and the Carpentier family.
The main baseball field is named Dawn Coe-Jones Field, the second ballfield, mainly for slo-pitch softball, is now the Apollos Field, and the third field is called the Dobie Somerville Soccer Field.
“I think everybody here knows Dawn’s story,” Forrest said. “She had a 25-year career as a professional woman golfer, and was inducted into Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. But she was also a special ambassador for our community. It’s really nice that Jimmy, who lives in Tampa, is able to be here this weekend. We’re thrilled that he’s able to be here.”
Jones, who has frequently visited the Cowichan Lake area with his mother to visit family and friends, then stepped up and said, “It’s nice to be back here. I’m really proud of what the town is doing for [my mom],” he said.
When Forrest came to introduce the Somerville family, he said that although Lake Cowichan had never been a soccer town, Dobie Somerville worked hard to introduce the sport to the community.
That field will get its first use on July 18 as the BC Summer Games use it for practice, Forrest said of the new Dobie Somerville Soccer Field.
“We’re very excited about that,” Forrest said. “We’re hoping to have soccer started up in our community. We have lots of young kids here now. I know there are some people who play soccer who are interested in getting that started. [After the ball season], these outfield fences will come down and then we can move onto that.” he said.
Kristine Sandhu, one of Somerville’s daughters, then took the mic and said, “Thank you to all those that voted for our dad. I’d like to thank our family for coming from Cumberland today, our family from Duncan. We’re just so happy and so blessed to have this for our dad and their uncle. Thank you.” she said.
Forrest spoke about the Apollos hockey team, which started up about the time the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena was built.
“I know they were looking for a name, and Gary Carpentier, who’s here today, was one of the players on that team. His brother, [was] the chief physician for the Apollo 11 space mission — the one that landed men on the moon. Bill Carpentier was a big part of that; he grew up here, went to school here, and had great success. So, that’s where the name Apollos came from for the hockey team. It also turned out that the Apollos stayed together for 40 years as a hockey team, the longest serving team in our community. I was lucky to get to play on that team…They did a lot for the community. We then hosted a ball tournament for 30 years: the annual Labour Day Slo-pitch tournament. It averaged maybe 50 teams a year for those 30 years which was a lot of people coming into our community.”
The three groups then posed with the field plaques and then Jimmy Jones, Adam Sandu, and Gary Carpentier threw out ceremonial ‘first balls’.
Kelly Bergstrom, president of Lake Cowichan Minor Baseball, took the mic and said, “It’s nice to be able to play on a field here for 30 years, and not have to go to Duncan to play.”
He also thanked organizers for scheduling a home double header with Oceanside for the Lake Cowichan team over the Lake Days weekend, adding, “It’s just made it better for this ceremony. Hopefully, we’re going to build off this now.”
Ryan Rai, the Lake Cowichan Slo-pitch president, said, “It’s great to be able to play in town again, instead of always at Mesachie. Maybe now we can organize some tournaments again.”
He also thanked Bergstrom, who, although he is a town works employee, has also put in “countless hours” of his own time on the field.